Tips for getting started
Are you considering towing an RV, boat trailer, or utility trailer for the first time? Start by asking these fundamental questions to better define your own specific towing situation and needs.
First and foremost: what type of trailer are you towing? Each trailer will have a specific hitch requirement since trailers range in gross trailer weight and tongue weight. The most common type of hitches are receiver hitches which mount to the towing vehicle’s frame and are divided into 5 classes, depending on their weight capacity and receiver tube size. If you are towing something more heavy duty, you may need to move up to a 5th wheel hitch. This is a heavy-duty hitch which mounts into the bed of a pickup truck, similar to those used by commercial tractor-trailer rigs. Another heavy-duty option is a gooseneck hitch which also mounts into the bed of a pickup truck. However, goosenecks are designed to be less intrusive than 5th wheels by allowing full access to the truck bed when the trailer is not hooked up.Next: what type of vehicle will you be towing your trailer with? A pickup truck, van, crossover, or even a car can be set up to tow a trailer. But each type of vehicle will have different requirements and capabilities and will require specialized equipment to tow your trailer safely. Some vehicles come with a factory towing package already installed, while others will need an aftermarket hitch, brake controller and proper wiring installed to be road ready. The weight of your trailer as well as its contents will require a specific vehicle size and power capability in order to be able to handle towing successfully.
Other factors to consider are where are you going to take your trailer and what are the conditions of the roads you’ll be traveling on? As you can imagine, driving on less than ideal terrain or in poor weather can be challenging enough; towing a trailer in these conditions can be even more demanding. Some tips for safe towing include: ensure tire air pressure is correct, drive at a reasonable speed, leave plenty of stopping distance, arrange trailer cargo so the centre of gravity is just ahead of the axle, make sure the tow vehicle is rated to handle the trailer weight and the brake controller is set up properly. Also, if you are towing a large trailer then you should have sway control as well as a weight distribution hitch installed to prevent too much sway.
Considering these questions and taking the time to consult with a hitch installation professional can make your first towing experience a much smoother ride. They will give you the advice you’ll need to best determine the right equipment for your type of vehicle, trailer and road-use combination.